Every time I think we’ve gotten our household finances as lean as we can get them, I discover something else we can do to make them even leaner. Here are five things I’ve done over the past couple of years that have saved us a lot of money.
1. Make laundry soap. For about $10 in supplies, I was able to make enough laundry soap to last us for about a year. And with five adult-sized people who wear regular clothes plus sports clothes plus pajamas every day, we do a lot of laundry around here. I’ve just now had to replace the last ingredient and it’s been about 18 months since I started. This is the recipe I use. So that’s basically a huge saving. I still haven’t found a recipe for a fabric softener that I like, so if you know of one that leaves clothes soft and smelling good, let me know in the comments. I prefer liquid.
2. Get rid of cable. With all the options for watching tv out there, you really don’t need cable. We already had streaming Netflix and Apple TV, so we kept that. We added Hulu Plus for about $9/month and bought a digital tv antenna for $30 so we could watch Downton Abbey. (We can get local channels with this, but Downton is the only current tv we watch.) Our cable bill used to be about $110 per month, so that first month we got rid of it we saved $71, and every month since then we have been saving $101. That’s a huge saving, too.
3. Get rid of the landline. We didn’t get rid of our landline for a long time because we used it for receiving calls from stores, marketers, political campaigns, etc. We turned off the ringer and only checked the messages every week or so, or whenever we remembered. We didn’t want any of those people having our cell phone numbers. Then we discovered that we could get a free Google Voice phone number. We monitor that number, but we don’t have to be bothered on our cell phones all day with calls from folks we don’t want to talk to, and we don’t have to pay for a service that we don’t use. The new number is one we give out when we don’t want to give out our cell numbers. We feel very clever, like we beat the system. Not having a land line saves us $35 per month.
4. Plastic wrap the front window. We have a huge window that isn’t double-paned. I added a layer of plastic wrap to the inside (I’ve done it twice now) and both times our utility bill went down, even though it was a colder month and the bill should have gone up. I wrote about how I did it here Money-Saving Tip: Plastic Wrapping the Front Window.
5. Give handmade gifts. For two years now we have given handmade gifts to the adults in our lives for birthdays and Christmas. It is a trade-off because it takes time to make things, but if you’re in a phase of life where you have more time than money, it’s great.
Those are some of the things I’ve done lately to save money…and saving money makes me happy. Do you have any money-saving tips?